Book Review: Why God Won’t Go Away: Is The New Atheism Running on Empty

In Why God Won’t Go Away: Is The New Atheism Running on Empty, Dr. Alister E. McGrath presents a provocative book about the fall of the New Atheism empire.  McGrath does an effective job of presenting the differences between the New Atheism and classical Atheism, the foundations of the New Atheism, and the conflicts within the New Atheism.  This is a thoughtful book that serves as a good introduction to a person who does not have much experience reading in the field of apologetics with regard to the New Atheism.

McGrath cites the differences between the New Atheism and classical Atheism as the evangelical nature of the tenants of the New Atheism, the anti-theism of the New Atheism, the cultural and political power being sought by the New Atheism, and the militant nature of the New Atheism.  These differences are what make the New Atheist movement such a strong topic of conversation within the world of philosophy and the culture at large.  McGrath also presents a helpful introduction to the development of the New Atheism by explaining the biographies and contributions of the major voices – Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens.

McGrath then turns to the core foundations of the New Atheism and seeks to respond to these foundations from the perspective of a Biblical worldview.  The foundations that the book addresses are the role of violence in religion, rationality and faith, and science and faith.  These are all helpful sections that are well argued and would be helpful for a Christian to use when preparing to dialogue with a person who prescribes to the ideals of the New Atheism.

McGrath closes the book by describing the current state of the New Atheist movement and the fact that religion still has a strong hold in society.  This section reminds readers of the fact that deep within every human being there is a deep longing for God.  McGrath uses this as the final blow argument against the New Atheism.  He also seeks to underscore the importance of people coming to realize this innate desire for God by ending the book with a compelling story of a man who came to faith while seeking to understand the opposing views to Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

Why God Won’t Go Away is a short and easy to read book that serves as a good introduction to the New Atheism.  McGrath is a clear writer who can make philosophy engaging to the reader.  He also gives a helpful list of additional resources for readers to study this subject on a deeper level.  This is a great book that should be used as an introductory resource to the topic.